I am, admittedly, an Ebay junkie. While waiting for the birth of my son, I spent many hours on Ebay, trying to score some cool baby stuff. I'd blame it on nesting, but my Ebay habit started long before my pregnancy. At first, many of my purchases bombed. There was the $50 plane ticket (to anywhere!!) that turned out to be a hoax. (How did I not know that???). And there was a host of ill-fitting dresses, uncomfortable shoes, and a purse that I just didn't need. Or love. I just got caught up in the bidding war. BUT....over the years, I've learned a few things, gotten a little smarter, and managed to use Ebay to score some really great things for the babe. My piece de resistance? My super-cool, denim Bugaboo Frog stroller for $350, or maybe the 25 piece lot of Splendid baby clothes for $70. Here's what I've learned:
1. Know EXACTLY What You Are Looking For
Searching for "diaper bag" on Ebay will yield 7,291 results. Weeding through the 7,291 results for a diaper bag that's CUTE can be time-consuming and frustrating. However, search for "Fleurville Diaper Bag" and the search returns 87 results, many in great shape and hugely discounted off of retail price.
The more specific you are, the better the search results. So decide on what you want in advance, by visiting the baby boutiques you like, searching through magazines, etc. Once you've found something you can't live without, THEN log on to Ebay and type in exactly what you are looking for.
2. Can't Find It On Ebay? Set Up A Saved Search
If, for example, you were interested in Dwell bedding, but the pattern you wanted didn't show up in Ebay - now what? Don't despair. People are posting new inventory to Ebay every minute of the day. Just set up a saved search, and let Ebay email you the results. Here's how to do it:
- Log into Ebay
- Do your search "Dwell baby bedding"
- When the results return (see pic below for an example), right next to the words "2 results found for dwell baby bedding", you'll see the words, [Save this search] in blue. Click it!
- Once clicked, a pop-up box will appear:
- Choose your duration for the search, and from this point on, Ebay will send you daily emails with all auctions matching your search!
3. Review a Seller's Ratings
After each sale, buyers and sellers can leave feedback for each other. Feedback is Ebay's trust currency. Sellers will leave feedback on how fast buyers paid, and buyers will leave feedback on how fast the sellers ship, or how accurate their description of the product.
Once you've found an item up for auction, review the seller's rating and any feedback received. I like to check the negative feedback. Sellers have an option to respond to any negative feedback, and many times they offered full refunds, free shipping, etc. A seller that has mostly positive feedback and has reasonably handled negative feedback is one that I will do business with.
4. Decide on Your Max Bid By Doing Your Homework
All too often, someone will be selling an item on Ebay for a higher price than the item retails for in stores. How is this possible? The seller shops for sales, buys an item at a sale price, then puts the item on Ebay for less than the retail price, but still higher than the sale price they paid. EXAMPLE: An stroller retails for $100. Store.com is offering the stroller at 50% off, so a seller buys it for $50. They then sell the stroller on Ebay for $75, making $25 in profit. Annoying, but this happens all of the time.
Before you bid, do your homework. Google your item, look for it's availability in stores. Check sales. Use price comparison websites. Keep in mind that if the item you are looking for has sold out everywhere, you will probably have to pay retail price or higher on Ebay.
Also be sure to factor in shipping costs when considering your max bid!
5. Ready to Bid? Use Sniping Software
Whatever you do, DO NOT enter your max bid into Ebay. DO NOT. Entering your max bid will basically announce to the world that there is someone else interested in the item. The more people interested, the higher the price climbs. Instead, use sniping software.
Sniping software will watch the auction for you, then input your max bid seconds before (the default is 4 seconds before) the auction closes.
WHY YOU'LL WIN: If your max bid is the highest, you'll win simply because the other bidders won't have time to respond. The software will enter your bid with 4 seconds left, and before the other bidders can respond, the auction will end. In this manner, you eliminate a bidding war. There won't be time for someone to rationalize an additional bid for $2 more, then another $2, than another, than another....
HOW YOU'LL LOSE: The only way you will lose is if your max bid is lower than another bidder's max bid.
My favorite sniping software is a website called Auction Sniper. I like using this website (instead of software you have to download and install) because it's easy, is always properly synched with Ebay's clocks, and allows you to set up your snipes from anywhere, not just your home computer.
Auction Sniper charges a 1% transaction fee (25 cent min, $9.95 max) for each auction you WIN, and nothing if you lose. They also offer 3 free snipes to new members.
To use Auction Sniper, you'll need to set up an account. They have a great step-by-step tutorial on how to set up your first snipe.
So yes - you can score cool mom and baby gear on Ebay. But do your homework, know EXACTLY what you are bidding on, and use sniping software. It will help you win without a bidding war, and (if Ebay brings out your competitive side) save you from yourself.